Should parents of children who commit gun crimes with the parent’s firearms face criminal charges?

That’s the question being asked in Sparks, Nevada after a still-unnamed middle school student shot two classmates and a teacher before turning the gun on himself. The 9mm Ruger pistol used in the shooting may have come from his parents.

The parents of a seventh grade student who killed a teacher and wounded two students before taking his own life could face charges if police determine the boy got the semi-automatic gun from home, police said today.

“The potential is there [for charges to be filed],” said Sparks Police Department Deputy Chief Tom Miller. He said that decision would have to be left up to the local prosecutor’s office.

Miller said investigators believe the 12-year-old obtained the Ruger 9mm semi-automatic handgun from his home, however authorities are still trying to confirm the origin of the firearm.

He declined to identify the boy out of respect for his grieving family, but said he was a seventh grade student at Sparks Middle School.

Far too many Americans seem to grasp only the latter half of the Second Amendment, and assert that “shall not be infringed” empowers them to own a firearm without any sort responsibility, and that simply isn’t the case.

As gun owners, we have a moral responsibility to make sure that unauthorized users cannot access our firearms, and in most jurisdictions, there is a legal responsibility as well. We should safely secure firearms in a a gun safe or locking metal cabinet when we are not using them. This is doubly important if there are other adults or children with access to the interior of your home.

If the parents in the Sparks incident did not secure their pistol at all and thought that hiding it was enough security, they will likely face charges. If they owned a cabinet or safe and the child defeated it by knowing the combination or where the key was kept, that is still a security failure on the part of the parents, but one that is in a legal gray area, depending on how state law is written, and it may not result in charges being filed.